I remember the call from the hospital on December 24, 1994, as if it were yesterday. The nurse said, in a kind voice, that my mother had died "15 minutes" earlier – at 4:15 pm.
I was shocked and devastated. After 54 days of treatment she was supposed to be discharged the following day – in time for Christmas. Instead I was planning a funeral.
Even though it's been 18 years since her death it's always made Christmas a little different for me. Not necessarily sad. Perhaps nostalgic is the better word. But this day’s a reminder of her untimely death at a time we were expecting her home.
At her passing, I'd been sober for over three years and the idea of relapsing didn't cross my mind.
My mother was my friend, and a strong supporter. In fact, she wanted me to get clean and sober a long time before I decided to do so. It was a blessing that she was able to see me firmly grounded in recovery.
She wrote me while I was in prison. She was there during my teenage struggles. In the 1940s she fought a six year court battle to regain custody after my father kidnapped me and my three year old brother and took us out of state.
I know she never understood how someone with my potential wasted precious years as a criminal and drug addict.
But the last three years of her life she was delighted because I had finally entered sobriety. I still miss her.